The question pools are developed by the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC).
If you want to study from the question pool directly it is always best to obtain a copy from the NCVEC as they make minor corrections throughout the life cycle of the exam.
How to Study
There are a number of different ways to study, you need to find out what works best for YOU! Below are a number of resources including video, books, “cliff notes,” flash cards and practice test.
In the books section I’ve described how each book is laid out, again choose a style that works for you.
Before you plan to take any test you should do a number of practice exams. Recently a friend had planned to take his General exam but felt he wasn’t ready as he was only passing 1 out of 3 exams and then only by a couple of questions. I advised him to take more practice exams with hamstudy.org. He took about 20 exams over the course of about three days and passed the exam first time without any trouble.
In partnership with Colorado Ready and the patriot VE Team we provide FREE online classes throughout the year for all the classes of license. Upcoming classes will be posted here, on our MeWe page, the Patriot VE Team Facebook and MeWe pages as well as other affiliate and friends social media pages.
He also has lots of resources on his web site http://dcasler.com/ham-radio/ including tips on studying.
Gordon West Technician study https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gljU__v09Hs
Probably the most well known is the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual. It is available in the traditional binding or with a spiral binding, which is probably easier to use. The ARRL manuals provide a chapter on the topic, thoroughly explaining the material. They provide a copy of the question pool in the back, together with a cross reference to the appropriate chapter. This book is good if you want a thorough, and perhaps more in-depth, understanding of the topic/concept.
Even if you don’t use this book as your primary study tool it is good as a reference as there are many operating aspects that you are not tested on in the Technician exam, but you need to know in order to get on the air.
Another very popular study guide, which has been around as long as the ARRL manuals, are the Gordon West WB6NOA, manuals. Gordon’s format provides the question, as it is written in the question pool, together with the four different answers. He then indicates the correct answer and provides an explanation as to why that answer is correct, or why the others are wrong.
The books come with a CD which has audio of the questions, so you can study while driving.
Gordon West Technician videos can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gljU__v09Hs
Gordon has been conducting licensing classes for over 40 years so his material and study methods are tried and tested. Gordon has additional material on his web site, www.gordonwestradioschool.com including classes by approved instructors, most of these are in California. Gordon’s books and other material are produced in cooperation with the W5YI VEC. When my team was conducting in-person classes (pre-covid) we used Gordon’s material.
Stu Turner, W0STU, books provide a short sentence or two on a topic and the key words are highlighted. He has a companion web site, www.hamradioschool.com and there are additional materials to accompany the book as well as quizzes for each chapter of the book. His site also has a number of articles of interest to hams, including product reviews and more in-depth explanations of some topics, such as spread spectrum.
Stu also has apps, through Peak Programming, LLC, for both iOS and Android devices, which allow you to review the questions and take practice exams.
Craig Buck, K4IA, recently came out with a series of study books. These are written on the premise that you only see the right answer when you read, so therefore you don’t have to remember which of the four options you get on the exam is the right one, you only recognize the correct one.
Dan Romanchik, KB6NU, has been producing study guides for years. While they are available through Amazon in a paperback form he is better known for his web site where you can download the Technician material as a FREE pdf. They are also available in Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook versions, paperback through Amazon and an audiobook. He also has video lessons available on his YouTube channel.
The study guide gives the basic required knowledge in short sections with highlighted key words and cross references to the question pool number.
Flash cards are available for all the exams. These have the question on one side and the answer on the reverse. You can of course get some 3×5 index cards and make your own using the question pool. This latter method reinforces your learning while you are making them. Of course, with a pool of 426 questions, for the Technician, it will take you a while to write them yourself.
Hamstudy is the site I HIGHLY recommend for flash cards and practice exams and you can also read the entire questions by section. The questions are displayed in a box with the wrong answers in light gray and the correct one in bold green, so you only concentrate on the correct answer and hopefully not distracted by the incorrect one. It is free on the web and a small fee for the app which will function without internet connection.
Hamstudy also has testing software they provide for free to teams. My VE team has been using for over 3 years to grade exams using the camera on a laptop. Since COVID a team has stepped up to support the developer and they have done significant upgrades to allow the program to be used for fully remote (online) exams where the VEC’s have approved remote exams.
Study Guides / Cliff Notes
As mentioned above, Dan Romanchik, KB6NU has been producing a “cliff notes” study guide for all the exams for years, in addition to his book listed above. His Technician guide is available as a FREE pdf download.
Finding an Exam
Of the 14 VEC’s the only one that does not charge is Laurel VEC. All teams under the Laurel VEC provide FREE exams. Teams and tests can be found on their web site.
Patriot VE Team
To find my teams exams in Colorado (we only do in-person) go to https://hamstudy.org/sessions/w0pct
If you have a group of people who want to test and can’t find a local exam and you have some space contact me and we will see if we can set an exam up for you.
To find in-person tests in your area go to https://hamstudy.org/sessions and enter your zip. Not all teams list with hamstudy.
To find remote/online exams go to https://hamstudy.org/sessions/online.
All teams doing remote exams are listed on hamstudy as their testing program (ExamTools) is the program they are all using.